Keep one of the island’s best things to eat available

Have you ever tasted freshly pounded kalo? If you’ve only ever had store-bought, plastic-bagged poi, eating pa‘i ‘ai right off the papa ku‘i ‘ai is like having your first bite of Peter Luger porterhouse after only eating panfried Safeway steak your whole life. That’s not hyperbole!

You’re in the land of pa‘i ‘ai and yet if you haven’t tried it, most likely it’s because it is not easy to find. Isn’t that weird? That’s like going to Tunis and learning that all the couscous restaurants have shut down, or going to Italy and someone telling you they stopped making pasta a couple months ago. Due to Department of Health restrictions, hand-pounded kalo cannot be sold in Hawai‘i. You heard right. I appreciate that the DOH is looking out for me, but perhaps foods need to be looked at in a case-by-case basis, and I would really like to be able to buy pa‘i ‘ai, because after the first time I tasted it…the supermarket stuff just didn’t cut it. Imagine having to eat only Spaghetti-Os after having a taste of Town’s handcut pasta. Geddit?

In one hour, Daniel Anthony of Mana ‘Ai, an educational organization that has been struggling to be able to sell pa‘i ‘ai, will testify at a hearing for SB101 SD1, which would “exempt the preparation of hand-pounded poi from certain processing requirements and from Department of Health regulation regarding food safety. Imposes labeling requirements on hand-pounded poi made outside of certified food processing establishments. Authorizes the department of health to conduct inspections of hand-pounded poi producer’s premises under certain conditions.”

Anthony reports that Rep. Robert Herkes, Chair of the Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, needs more verbal and written support to push the bill through. You can write to Rep. Herkes at repherkes@capitol.hawaii.gov or call 586-8400. As of right now, the Leg doesn’t feel that pa‘i ‘ai, and the right to make, sell, and eat it, is important to the community. It’s important to me, and I’m going to call right now.

Even if you don’t consider yourself “political” (actually, just by existing in the U.S. you’re political, hon), if you take eating seriously, you’ll call or email. Take a stand as a consumer of all that is fine and tasty to eat.

10:35pm: Update: Daniel Anthony reports that the hearing was a success. Even the DOH was supportive. “The committees on HAW recommend that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes were as follows: 7 Ayes: Representative(s) Hanohano, C. Lee, Jordan, Morikawa, Wooley, Pine, Ward; Ayes with reservations: none; Noes: none; and 3 Excused: Representative(s) Belatti, Mizuno, Yamane.”

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3 thoughts on “Keep one of the island’s best things to eat available

  1. In case you’re not sure what to say, here’s what I sent in:

    Dear Rep. Herkes,

    I am a born-and-raised-on-Oahu resident of Hawaii, and I love hand-pounded pa‘i ‘ai.
    I would like it to be commercially available because it is delicious and good for me.

    Not being able to buy hand-pounded kalo in Hawai‘i is like going to Italy and finding out that pasta has been outlawed.

    I appreciate that the Department of Health has my best interests in mind, but I believe that groups such as Mana Ai work in an informed, responsible, sanitary manner, and that they should be exempt from some restrictions so that they may produce and sell pa‘i ‘ai.

    Sincerely,

    Lesa Griffith

  2. This is a great post. I was born in Oahu and still have family there. It would have been a great cultural loss to have the DOH regulate it to supermarkets only. Love your blog. I definitely will keep coming back 🙂

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